The first installment in a duology, Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber is a fantasy, adventure, and romance story all rolled into one. It features Wren Greenrock and her twin sister, Rose Valhart. The two girls were separated at birth and raised in diverse locales with different values and perspectives. Rose has lived the life of a pampered princess at Anadawn Palace while Wren grew up near the Whisperwind Cliffs beside the ocean in a commune of witches. Now that Rose is about to be crowned queen, her grandmother has determined that a witch would better serve the kingdom of Eana. So, sheRead More →

Although an important book about exploitation, genocide, and identity—one inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology—Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye is difficult to read. Trapped in a world of monsters who will eat her alive should they realize she’s the enemy, Sloane Shade lives under Lucis rule and tyranny. Ten times more horrifying than the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the ruling class and its military are pitting children against children, training them to kill or be killed. Bound by the Lucis law regarding conscription, when a child turns fifteen, he or she reports for training for a war against the Shadow Rebels. Such is the fate ofRead More →

With his novel All That’s Left in the World, Erik J. Brown tells a post-apocalyptic story. It features “a gay guy, a broken straight boy, a cartography genius with PTSD, a seventy-year-old woman with a shotgun fighting zoo animals” (264), and a host of not-so-supportive others with an occasional kind character thrown in. There’s also a white supremacists commune, lest we forget the corrupting forces of racism, greed, and power. After a super-flu virus has nearly wiped out the American population, Andrew sets out from Connecticut on foot to find other survivors. Near Philadelphia, he is caught in a bear trap and staggers into aRead More →

Twelve-year-old Logan Foster is good at research, deductive reasoning, and logical problem-solving. However, he is not so adept at emotional responses, human interaction, and reading social cues. This unique protagonist evolves into the hero of Shawn Peters’ novel The Unforgettable Logan Foster.  Set in Santa Monica, California, Peters’ novel retells the story of an orphan who loves comics. Logan considers comics relatable because most superheroes are orphans. They also work to undermine villains and thwart bullies. When Gil Grant and Margie Morrow visit the El Segundo Transitional Orphanage (ESTO) as promising prospective foster parents, Logan experiences the feeling of being wanted and decides it feelsRead More →

Many readers have found fictional worlds fascinating; some of us might even wonder what it would be like to live in such an alternate reality. Adelle Casey and Connie Rollins have been enamored by the Victorian era novel Moira by Robin Amery for years. Although Adelle is attracted to the esoteric and the occult, Connie is much more practical. With a heart as big as her fanciful imagination, Adelle tends to be in love with the worlds found in books rather than with the world going by all around her. As a result, her interests lean towards topics like astrology, tarot, wizards, vampires, werewolves, orRead More →

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson is a fascinating book about two sisters: Myra, a seventeen-year-old painter with dreams of securing a full-ride scholarship to the Conservatory for Music and the Arts; and Lucy, a thirteen-year-old aspiring biologist who hopes to improve the environment, save endangered animals, and change the world with her discoveries. With the sudden disappearance of both their mother and father, Myra’s whole world unravels. Abandoned and without resources, the two Whitlock girls can scarcely afford food and rent, let alone the medical care Lucy needs as her illness worsens. A prisoner of guilt and loneliness, Myra doesn’t know howRead More →

The Shattered Castle is Book Five in the Ascendance Series by Jennifer Nielsen, and it is as rich with action and adventure as it is filled with lessons for living an honorable life. When Jaron Artolius Eckbert the Third defeated the Prozarian Army, he stole the Devil’s Scope and kept the secret for himself. Now he must not only defend Carthya from the vengeful Prozarians and protect his kingdom and his throne from the power-hungry Castor Veldergrath but win back the trust he lost from Imogen, who is furious with him for this betrayal. Nielsen weaves her plot with mastery and creates her characters withRead More →

After magic kills her mother, Liora Duval thinks of magic as an invisible beast capable of snatching her life away in a moment.  As she grows into young adulthood, those fears subside, and Liora discovers she has magic of her own. Although hiding had kept her safe for over a decade, Liora realizes that she can’t know her limits without testing them. Despite being full of curiosity and questions about her power, her options, and how her magic works, she is still fearful. When Lord Darius, the king’s most trusted advisor and a warlock who uses mages as instruments for profit and power, comes toRead More →

As The Llano Kid is making his way to California in Dead Man’s Gold by Paul K. Brown, the half-Cherokee, half-Irishman happens upon Jake Peters, who has been shot and left for dead in the Arizona desert. After making a promise to the dying man, Llano takes up temporary residence in Prescott with the intention of freeing Jake’s daughter, Melissa, from bondage because of her father’s debt. Because Llano imagines an awful existence for a young frontier girl who has been taken as collateral on an unpaid bank note, his moral compass won’t let him ride on. “Folks in these parts, they was downright brutalRead More →